There I was all snug in my tent, fancy sleeping bag all nice and toasty, folded up blanket as my pillow, sound asleep not a care in the world.
Then I hear my name, coming from outside, somewhere around 2 A.M.
Dad has arrived! He had a 400 mile ride after work from Georgetown Colorado to meet me here. Coincidentally this year is the 20th anniversary of him bringing me to Sturgis for the 1st time!
Dad hadn’t been at camp but about maybe 20 minutes when it became very clear that I did in fact inherit things from him. The talent for improperly parking motorcycles on hills and having them fall over was apparently one of these things.
I walked up to use the porta potty and when I returned a few minutes later dad was trying to pick up his bike off the ground. This scene looked vividly familiar. Instead of a Harley in the daylight on its side we now have a BMW in the dark on its side. This was one of those “I really shouldn’t laugh cause dads probably a tad cranky” kind of moments, but since I did the same thing yesterday I found it rather hilarious. I told him I was impressed I didn’t hear a long list of profanity while I was at the porta potty and he said he was trying not to wake people up.
Definitely a situation where you had to be there to see the humor of it all. I mean we were talking , pounding tent stakes , unstrapping bags from the bike, setting up a tent, and dropping motorcycles all in the wee hours of the morning but dad wasn’t cussing yet so life was good and the neighbors might still be sleeping.
After some hard labor holding a flash light while dad fumbled around getting his tent unpacked and set up, (I think it probably looked like a disco with all of the back and forth from the bike to the campsite because I kept shining the light wherever dad walked) he let me go back to bed.
As always first crack of daylight that is wide-awake running around ready to go! He had already been up to the shower house grabbed me a cup of coffee and brought it back, smart man!
Today was going to be epic, I am touring to my 36th and 37th State via motorcycle and dad is coming along for the ride.
I have never been to North Dakota via motorcycle or any other mode of transportation and I was about to find out why. We headed out of Sturgis with the destination of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, I figured why not add another National Park to my list while I was on this trip.
Once into Belle Fourche I saw the coolest RV it must’ve had literally 1000 bumper stickers on the outside of it and it was parked on the corner by the stop light. This is something I’ll remember and talk more about it later. It was here that we made a right-hand turn north on Highway 85. Now mind you I had tried to research different routes in and out of North Dakota and things in North Dakota one might want to see, this particular route was labeled “scenic”….. I’m here to tell you firsthand with Dad as my witness Helen Keller herself saw more sites in her lifetime then we did this day.
Didn’t matter which direction I looked the scenery did not change. It was a 240 mile ride from Sturgis to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and as we rolled down this highway I began thinking to myself, “How badly do I really want to see this National Park!?”
We had been rolling a long for sometime and I realized I hadn’t really looked at the clock or my odometer to know exactly how far we were into this 240 mile adventure but it had to be 100 miles or better by now.
All of a sudden out of nowhere there was a curve in the road! This was extremely exciting, I wasn’t sure if I could quite remember, after the long straight path we had been following, how to turn my motorcycle. Luckily it’s just like riding a bike and my skills came back to me allowing to flawlessly navigate this crazy technical section of road. Wow a curve, maybe we’re getting somewhere?
I was wrong, just more of the same. Road elevated a bit and we crested what could be referred to as a hill and I shit you not this is where I discovered there is indeed life on other planets because I was sure at this point we had left earth, there up ahead was a large grove of trees!!! I was in awe at the green leafy site! Sadly it came and went as we rolled by. Then at the top of the next hill there was something on the side of the road I could not quite make it out until I was almost passing it, turns out there on the side of the road next to a backpack was an actual human being! I could not help but wonder how in the hell did he get here ?…and where did he come from?… and is he really human? Dad had the same thought, I caught him looking around in the fields on either side for a vehicle or a house or any sign of other life forms that we may have overlooked. I certainly hope he found whatever he was looking for out there before the buzzards started circling.
I was thinking we should be dangerously close to the state line around now when I spotted a sign, I slowed way down thinking it may be the North Dakota sign and I definitely wanted a picture of this because at this point I was pretty sure I was never coming back again. As I got close enough to read it it was a big sign that read, Gas -food- and Camp supplies 1 mile ahead. Now I know I was only down a little over a quarter tank of fuel since we left so there was really no need to stop, curiosity got the best of me and I had to see what this little building out in the middle of this vast no man’s land was all about.
Very cool oasis, drinks, groceries, souvenirs, outdoor restrooms, and a few rock formations outside that so far were the most scenic part of our journey on the “scenic” route Highway 85. The welcome sign at the back door I believe was my favorite part.
We met some fellow riders here who had trailered out to the rally from New Hampshire and were making the same 4 state loop that we were today and had the same opinion of the ride thus far. Somewhere around 40 miles after our little country general store stop we did manage to find the state line to North Dakota. The other group had stopped there as well. After some photos we were all back on the road.
All right here we go state number 36 on my motorcycle. I decided by this point in our journey that Theodore Roosevelt National Park was no longer the destination. We were simply going to make it to the next highway that headed west, hang a left, and find Montana. Before we had the opportunity to do this we first ran into road construction where we became stuck behind a convoy of 4 trucks, trailers, and campers. Every time I saw a sign that said pass with care I would see another sign on the shoulder of the road that said 40 MPH construction zone, needless to say I was a little confused on exactly what the traffic laws were. Given my history of being pulled over on a fairly regular basis I figured maybe I should give up the dream of passing these folks and just hang out behind them traveling roughly 5 MPH under the posted speed limit. Hey life happens we’re all trying to get somewhere at some point right?! At this part I was seriously just laughing into the wind at my day, there was really nothing wrong, bikes running good weather was great but there was just absolutely nothing out here to look at and the road just seemed to go on forever in a straight line.
I’m not one to mind when the road goes on forever but I prefer it has maybe a hill or corner or maybe a couple more of those groves of trees that I had seen what seemed like so many days ago. I am a huge fan of being in the middle of nowhere but this was a whole different world out here, it was the kind of middle of nowhere that makes you wonder if anything could possibly survive out here and exactly when in the hell did I step back into a 1980s horror flick ?! What’s next? Will my bike breakdown and some crazy scene from The Hills Have Eyes be replayed in real life?!
Next we arrived in Bowman and found a travel center. I picked up a coffee cup souvenir and we had a little lunch before hitting the road west. It wasn’t far from here to Montana down Highway 12.
We reached the state line to my 37th state via 2 wheels in no time and it was like stepping into the water from a hot sandy beach we went from vast nothingness to some really cool rock and sand formations and a curvy hilly road
I should’ve appreciated that stretch of highway while it lasted much more than I did because we were turning down Highway 7 and it was all gone! This highway parallels 85 so essentially I was just driving down the backside of everything I had seen all morning. I’m not going to bother re-describing everything you’ve already read, enough about that. I will just say that after our stretch of Highway 7 came to an end we found the coolest little bar and a little four corners in south-eastern Montana. Everything from the deck to the bar to the bartender to the bathrooms had me entertained here so we took a nice long break and enjoyed an adult beverage to celebrate the 300 miles of boredom being behind us now.
After seeing the sights down the hallway here I finally made it to the restroom and I’m not gonna lie it was kinda graphic……
I lost hope for humanity again in this bathroom but not for reasons you may think. I found a small bundle of cash on the floor when I walked in and assumed it belonged to the girl who had occupied it before me so I took it out to her friend who was waiting in line to use the bathroom and neither one of the girls thanked me for returning it! I can’t help but wonder if the friend returned it to the rightful owner?!
These would have made excellent stocking stuffers if I had thought that far ahead.
After taking full advantage of the photo opp here we came to the conclusion that we just might be the tourists that we make fun of because neither of us had a clue where we were, hadn’t looked at a map since we left, and the trusty ol’ google maps app only works if you have service. Now this is becoming a true road trip….not all who wonder are lost….and at the risk of sounding even more cliché, it’s about the journey not the destination!
I decided to leave behind a bumper sticker since everyone else left their autograph and date carved or signed into the wood here, hey who knows maybe I’ll be famous and some passers-by might want to read about my adventures!
Eventually we picked a direction and before we even had a chance to leave 3rd gear there was a sign saying Devils Tower Wyoming was to the right, that is close to Aladdin so off to the right we went.
If you have never ventured to Aladdin Wyoming I strongly suggest you go. The first several years I stopped here the town, Population 15, was for sale. This real estate ad was hand written in giant letters on a poster board attached to the front door of the General store-Post Office-Bar-Souvenir shop-Antique store-Gas Station.
This year I noticed the sign was gone so i assume it finally sold. I was happy to see whoever bought it left the high-class bathrooms outback with the fancy plumbing. It is honestly all just part of the Aladdin experience!
Dad bought a shirt and I used the facilities then bought some cheese curds for the ride back to Sturgis and we were on our way. We rolled into Belle Fourche and I recognized the RV on the corner covered in stickers from this morning but dad was not convinced I was going the right way. We often disagree on where we are going and how we should get there but somehow we always find the way. After I pointed out the sticker RV he remembered where we were and all was well.
Land mark navigation is the best! ask me directions to a place and generally it comes out something like, “well hang a left at the pointless fork in the road, go down to the big red barn, take a right, keep going until you get passed the 35 MPH S curve…..” I pretty much tell you everything except the names of the roads but hey I always get where I’m going and once in a while I’m even on time!
It wasn’t long before we found ourselves downtown Sturgis ready for food and fun. Tonight our favorite band was going to be playing at the Iron Horse Saloon. We found parking spots and began to walk over, about half way there dad remembered he forgot his phone, back to the bike he goes! Then we grabbed seats at the bar to order dinner and I realized I left my wallet on the bike, back to the bike I went!…. can you tell we are related yet?!
Wayland was taking the stage out back in about an hour so we sat and ate and chit chatted with our super perky talkative bartender to pass the time. after dinner we decided to go check out the crowd and have another drink. We found our way outside and up to the stage, but not as “up to the stage” as dad wanted to be. If there had been chairs here we probably would be around the 8th row standing at the fence we were at. Dad wanted to be up close and personal but that area was reserved for VIP/chrome Club members and last I checked we were not either of those things. No biggie to me but before I knew it dad came skipping back from the bathroom with 2 passes for the front section…alright I suppose we can go hang out with the cool kids.
If you have never heard Wayland you may not understand dads obsession so I highly recommend you google them and then download every song they have on digital media platforms! You could follow that up by visiting their website and purchasing some merch because these guys are unbelievable and well worth the money! I promise you will not be disappointed, they play all over the U.S. all year-long catch a show near you and you will be impressed and obsessed.
Somewhere in the midst of things they were tossing out Dennis kirk shirts and a gigantic man next to me caught one. I was a little jealous until he turned around and actually handed it to me because it was a small and not a giant man size!
Bike Rallies are dangerous in the sense that there is a bar every 10 feet and more vendors than the Mall of America just waiting to sell you all their shiney new chrome and leather motorcycle gadgets and apparel. Aaaaand a few drinks in everything seems like you REALLY need one of those! Whatever “those” may be, you wont find out until you are packing your bags to go home and open a bag you don’t remember putting in your saddle bag.
Had to give a shout out to Mr tire around the waist guy, I rode 40 miles like that once with 2 tires!
Goes without saying, we may have spent a few dollars downtown Friday night. However, can you really put a price on a good time?
We danced, we sang, we walked, we talked, we drank, we shopped, we……well its Sturgis I can’t tell all the secrets! I can tell you a Bloody Mary was necessary Saturday morning and I felt the need to go find a shirt saying, “Bikers have more fun than people do!”
You simply can’t go wrong with live music in every other building, motorcycles roaring up and down the street, people of all shapes sizes and colors wandering around for you to watch, food and drinks literally on every corner, and endless Tee-shirts to read! This list could go on for ever so I’ll stop there and say Thanks for another great year Sturgis!